As another year passes and a new one arises, the annual symbol of a new beginning inspires many of us to be better versions of ourselves; to reset bad habits and strive for a fresh start. However, because mental health is declining in the United States, waking up with a new outlook is not the easiest task for many individuals. Resolutions such as “lose 25 pounds” or “get promoted at work” are easier said than done without a healthy mindset.
To help you kick start your new year with a healthy mind and body, below are 12 New Year’s Resolutions you can actually keep.
1. Avoid Criticizing Your Appearance
Several studies show that “body shaming” yourself, as well as hearing and engaging in negative body talk, contributes to higher levels of body dissatisfaction and lowered self-confidence in both men and women. Instead of talking yourself down, make a healthy New Year’s resolution to practice positive self-talk and shift your inner dialogue.
2. Spend Less Time Sitting Down
Sitting too much or living a sedentary lifestyle can have negative effects on your health. In fact, a 2016 study revealed that sitting too much may increase your risk of premature death. According to the National Cancer Institute, sitting for prolonged periods also heightens cancer risks.
If you have a desk job that requires sitting from 9 to 5, make a resolution to go for a 5-minute walk every hour or two. Moreover, an additional 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week is critical if the nature of your job is sedentary.
3. Spend More Time Outdoors
Taking a quick stroll outside during your lunch break, going hiking with friends over the weekend, or relishing the beauty of your backyard can improve your health by lowering blood pressure, elevating mood levels, and alleviating stress.
4. Take More Vacations
Even the shortest vacation can have significant and immediate positive effects on your wellbeing. Whether you travel to a local area, sightsee in a different country, or simply plan a staycation at home, a much-needed time for relaxation is essential to a healthy mind and body.
5. Prepare More Meals at Home
Research shows that cooking more meals at home is associated with less body fat and an overall healthy diet. A study involving 11,396 adults supports the latter, which found that people who consumed five or more homemade meals per week were 28 percent less likely to be overweight or obese — another prevalent cancer risk factor.
Of course, having a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator is necessary to prepare healthy, homemade meals. Therefore, include grocery shopping regularly to your New Year’s Resolutions, too.
6. Reduce Your Consumption of Sweetened Beverages
Alcohol is not the only drink with health-threatening consequences. Drinking sweetened beverages increase the risk of obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cavities in adults and children. While quitting sweetened beverages cold turkey is an excellent option, it is not always the easiest. Instead, gradually minimizing your intake may help you stop your sugar-filled drinking habit for good.
7. Take Excellent Care of Your Teeth and Gums
Taking your oral health seriously is a significant factor in improving your quality of life. Brushing after every meal and flossing once daily plays a role in preventing oral conditions such as bad breath, gum disease, and oral cancer. While bad breath only causes embarrassment, gum disease may be linked to Alzheimer’s and heart disease, and oral cancer causes over 9,750 deaths each year.
In addition to regular brushing and flossing, most dentists recommend a checkup and cleaning service at least once a year.
8. Limit Screen Time and Exposure to Social Media
Most of us rely on our phones and computers for work and leisure, and reading this article right now is a true testament to this statement. But spending too much time on electronic devices — particularly to check social media — has been linked to anxiety, depression, and loneliness in many scientific studies.
Setting a resolution to limit scrolling through social media, browsing on the internet, watching television, or playing video games may help boost your mood and productivity.
9. Strive to Be More Present
According to a 2017 study published in HHS Public Access, being more present may enhance life satisfaction and psychological health. A few examples of being more present are spending less time on your phone, listening to others, and literally stopping to smell the roses. Making this resolution may help you feel happier in your everyday life.
10. Eat a Sustainable, Nourishing Diet
The vast majority of us are guilty of adding “lose weight” to our New Year’s Resolutions year after year. A reason why many of us fail to achieve this goal is that we may be prioritizing short-term changes over long-term health benefits.
To break the cycle, instead of following yet another restrictive fad diet, change your resolution to creating a sustainable, nourishing lifestyle change. A healthy diet is one that is rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods and low in processed, sugary products. A healthy, long-term diet should be both nutritious and adaptable, meaning following it for life will not be a problem no matter the circumstances.
11. Get More Quality Sleep
Sleep is an indispensable part of overall health. Lack of sleep may increase your risk of rapid weight gain, heart disease, depression, and cancer. Reducing screen time before bed, cutting back on caffeine, and going to bed at a reasonable time are some ways to get quality sleep at night.
12. Make Time to Visit Your Doctor
Getting an annual examination from your healthcare practitioner is vital for a multitude of reasons. For instance, having regular blood and urine tests, as well as imaging tests, can help identify a symptomless disease before it progresses.
How often you should visit your primary care physician depends on many conditions, including your age, medical history, and the type of medical care you need. Most experts recommend seeing a doctor at least once a year for a checkup.
The healthy resolutions mentioned in this list are sustainable ways to drastically improve your physical and emotional health. Try out a few of them to make this year — and the years to come — the healthiest and happiest possible.